The real global competition might be going on behind the scenes.

As the world lumbers through a pandemic-ridden New Year where people have to weigh the risks of going to see a movie, Tokyo appears confident that its postponed 2020 Summer Games will still go ahead this July.

In fact, as an example of just how ready they are, the Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee revealed on 4 January that it had trained 220 white-hat hackers – which they awkwardly refer to simply as “white hackers” – to ensure cyber-security during the international sporting event.

▼ “Hi! I’m Chase, the white hacker you ordered.”

Fears of a cyber-attack during the games are warranted as the 2018 Winter Games in Pyeongchang were heavily disrupted by a network breach and its official website was shut down. The 2012 Olympics in London also reportedly dealt with a “cyber-onslaught” according to a security consultant.

Japan’s own ability to withstand such attacks was called into question two years ago when the Minister in charger of the games admitted to having never touched a computer in his life. However, with him having stepped down from the position and this new team of eleven-score hackers revealed, things might be okay after all.

There is also the fear that this elite team was trained by a government that only a few months ago announced it would phase out the use of fax machines and wooden stamps. The good news here is that each member was plucked from existing IT companies with existing expertise and employment.

This is an important detail with the still-realistic possibility that the games get scrapped and we suddenly have over 200 disgruntled and unemployed white hackers on our hands.

▼ “Fire us, will you? I along with my friends Hunter, Bradley, and Caitlin have now hijacked your tax records. Tell me, how do you like those apples?”

Normally, any news of the Olympics causes unanimous groans from Japanese netizens, but this time they were actually impressed that something right had been done.

“I’m surprised. They did something properly.”
“I’d join just to get the training experience.”
“I think this Olympics is going to be a small affair anyway. Does anyone care enough to attack it?”
“We should just convert everything to paper and stamps. It’s the ultimate in cyber-security.”
“It’s slow, but I feel like we are moving in the right direction. I hope more awareness of IT is raised in this country.”
“The training is probably reminding them all how to use Internet Explorer.”

With very little known about these “hackers” or their training, it’s hard to say how effective they’ll be. But if the games are broadcast without any noticeable glitches or disruptions, you’ll know who to thank in the end.

This leaves the one lingering problem that can’t be solved with encryption or vaccines: the lethal heat that comes every summer. Since they still seem dead bent on holding it in July, hopefully they’re taking the extra time to come up with some better cooling ideas than funny hats and everyone turning their air conditioners on at the same time.

Source: Kyodo, Hachima Kiko
Top image: Pakutaso
Insert image: Pakutaso 1, 2
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